Masters of the mat

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On the 23rd January a team of five from the Causeway Judo club went to Cardiff to represent Northern Ireland at the Masters Commonwealth Judo Championships.

Along with members from other clubs across Northern Ireland, a squad of 20 players were set to compete against the other countries in the Commonwealths at the Millennium Centre in Wales.

Despite strong international competition, three of the Causeway team returned with medals! In what was a full 14-hour day of competition Judo and an X Factor-style final complete with male voice choirs, lights and dry ice smoke; the Causeway club can now boast a silver and two bronze medals to add to their growing list of competition achievements.

The medal winners were Mark Donald (silver), Alan Ashcroft and Marshall Craig (all pictured).

Alan Ashcroft, head coach for the club, added: “We put in a lot of training for this competition and although the fields of competitors weren’t as vast as previous years this was still a tough event for anyone going on the mat.

“I want to make a special recognition for Glen McCullough, who despite this being his first major competition, handled himself exceptionally and was only beaten by bad luck. Ian McNeill also performed very well in what was considered to be the most competitive category at the event.

“I’m proud of us all for going over and taking part and to come back with medals is the icing on the cake.”

The club is now looking forward to the Northern Ireland closed competition on 25 February and then the Open on 21 April.

Anyone who wants to come and give Judo a try will be made more than welcome and you can find out more by joining the club on Facebook or giving Alan a call on 07835 575 328. Training takes place in the Leaney School Tuesday nights and the Castle Community Centre, on Thursday nights.